Hitchhiking Colorado- Gone Fishin’ in Buena Vista

Friday, May 17, 2013

Time: 3:15 pm (Denver to Colorado Springs)

Wait: About 15 minutes

Kathy and I meet off the Lincoln Exit, and she tells me that she has to meet someone to sell some curtains and drapes at her house in Sedelia, so we stop there first and she pleases my ears by recommending that I take her Harley motorcycle for a spin.  “Take it out for a half hour or so, while I wait for her to get here,” she tells me.  Are you sure?, I ask her and when she says yes, I don’t think twice.  The bike handles like my old ’83 Honda CX-650, and I take it west towards the mountains, out of the town and into a rural area where farms filled with sheep and horses, greener grass, fade into smoothly crested mountain and pines, and the pines surround me and overwhelm me with their smell and I’m in control of every curve, and feel the pressure that they put on myself and the bike, I pass a few bikers, and we give the low-to-the-ground biker comradery salute, the air is so fresh and the wind just about blows my sunglasses right off my face, and I take my left hand and press them back onto the bridge of my nose, and there is this instantaneous sensation and reminder of how free it feels to ride a bike, and then I remember that it’s been near twenty minutes, and I should probably turn around, so I head back to Sediala. 

Back at Kathy’s place, the pot belly pig I find sleeping under the shade of his pig house, sleeping the day away in a lazy piggish kind of way.  Kathy and I hop into her car and we head towards the Castle Rock hitch spot.  She talks about the motorcycle community and how the few times she has been stranded on the side of the road with her motorcycle broke down,  other bikers pull over right away.  “It’s the comradery, they will never leave you stranded,” she says.  “I’ve had a guy pull over, put my bike on his trailer and bring it to his house just so it won’t get towed or stolen off the side of the road.”

She also tells me a story of when she went by motorcycle to Biker Heaven in Sturgis, Colorado and there was a guy being rude to her, coming on too hard to her and she had to set him straight.  “Usually, nothing happens, and when bikers get together they are the best of people, and we have a hell of a good time,” she says,” but this guy was too drunk, and so was I, and I actually told him to ‘go fuck himself.’… well, later it turned out that he was part of The Weasels biker group, which my other friend was part of and I didn’t know, so I’ve since had to turn down invites.”  She laughs.  “Who names their biker group The Weasels, anyways?” Kathy drops me off at the spot, but not before kindly offering a few healthy swigs of some Black Velvet whiskey. Any more of the bitter aftertaste is more than I can take for now.

I’ve only waited for about 15 minutes, the sun owns the sky, not a cloud in sight, two cute girls pass me by and I see one girl mouth to her friend, “Should we?”, and inevitably they don’t.  Then a guy pulls over in a custom jeep, its metallic finish looking like its spent some time in his garage getting coated with paint right from the can, he’s got a salt and pepper beard and mustache, a camouflage hunting cap, and a friendly smile.

I ask him where he is heading, and he says,”heading up ta Buena Vista to go fishing, but I’m going through Colorado Springs before I get onto highway 24 west.”  I hop into the tight quarters of the jeep, straddling my bags and some of LT’s belongings in between my feet.  The rear of the jeep is loaded to the brim with fishing poles, tackle boxes, tools, and other camping equipment. The jeep rumbles and shakes as he shifts the gears and LT says, “hope you don’t mind, this jeep is kind of slow movin’.”  Not at all, I tell him.

On the front window of the car there are a few stickers, “Active Law Enforcement Supporter”, some kind of hunting and game association, and his shifter is covered with a piece of black foam.  The all-weather tarp above are heads rattles and bounces on my head, I have to duck down a bit to keep from getting a mild headache.  “It’s a bit gusty today”, he says, and chuckles.  We’re passing the peak of mountains near Monument where I often see airplanes and glider planes; today the skies are empty.  Too windy for them today, I say. The wind nearly blows the cardboard hitchhiking sign out of my hands and out the window. “They’d end up in Kansas”, LT says, laughs. We pass a small fire breaking out alongside the railroad tracks just past Castle Rock on the way in, seven or so fire trucks surrounding and attempting to put out the small blaze.

On the dash stands a small plastic T-rex, its’ legs tied to a small twig.  “That things been in here since I bought the jeep,” LT tells me.  ” I keep it in here for good fishing luck.”

I ask him what kind of fish he usually catches.  “Oh, usually rainbow trout, for the most part,” he says.  LT tells me he is a Colorado native, “born and raised in Castle Rock”. 

LT’s a simple guy, and keeps quiet most of the time.  I’ve learned through hitching that one of my rules of engagement with people that are kind enough to pick me up is to mostly let them lead the conversation.  It’s a rule of hitchhiking etiquette.  The last thing somebody wants that has offered a ride to someone is to be blabbed at for an hour while going down the road.  LT is mostly a quiet guy, so I let my thoughts wander and gaze out at the mountains passing by.  I notice the old train tracks on one side, and where there used to be a bridge connecting two pieces of land, before the old tracks were removed and the new was laid, never noticed that before. 

“My friends are bringing some ATVs (All-terrain vehicles), too,” he says, ” would have brought mine, but didn’t have any more room in the back.”  LT is an all-around outdoors kind of man, and also tells me that he hunts elk in Colorado.  ” Colorado is one of the best states for elk hunting,” he says,” it’s pretty easy to get a license in the state, for some areas you have to get pulled from the draw, others you don’t.  I usually go out for a week in the woods and set up my little hunting shanty, hunt right out of it.”

I thank LT and wish him luck on his fishing trip, he drops me off just off of Uintah Exit, and he takes off towards highway 24, the jeep shifting and jerking into higher gears as it bounces and vibrates down the concrete until he disappears into the distance and becomes nothing within my spectrum of vision. 

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